ABC Film Challenge – Thriller – W – We Have Always Lived in the Castle (2018) Movie Review

Director: Stacie Passon

Writer: Mark Kruger (Screenplay) Shirley Jackson (Novel)

Starring: Taissa Farmiga, Alexandra Daddario, Crispin Glover, Sebastian Stan, Paula Malcomson, Peter Coonan, Ian Toner

Plot: Merricat, Constance and their Uncle Julian live in isolation after experiencing a family tragedy six years earlier. When cousin Charles arrives to steal the family fortune, he also threatens a dark secret they’ve been hiding.

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Mostly Forgettable

Story: We Have Always Lived in the Castle starts as we meet Merricat (Farmiga) and her older sister Constance (Daddario) Blackwood who continue to live in the family mansion under the care of Uncle Julian (Glover), they are not welcomed around town, with the mystery of what happened to their father still hanging over their heads.

Merricat has always been trying to keep Constance in the house, but when their cousin Charles (Stan) arrives it does make a mess of her plans and she must go to extreme lengths to keep her family together.

Thoughts on We Have Always Lived in the Castle

Characters – Merricat is the youngest member of the house, she looks after her older sister that is still scared to leave the house after the incident, she goes into town where she knows the people don’t like her and will do anything to keep the family together. Constance was once the outgoing of the sisters, she lost that when she was involved in an incident, which now keeps her housebound in fear of what people will say, this is until her cousin arrives, which sees her wanting to go out in the world again, even if she isn’t stable enough for this. Uncle Julian acts like the caretaker who has been looking to make a book of the events, always looking to create the next chapter. Charles is the cousin that arrives at the house, which sees everything start to spiral out of control with how he clashes with Merricat.

PerformancesTaissa Farmiga and Alexandra Daddario are both strong in the film, they show how the characters do feel isolated in their world, with the troubles they have been through. Crispin Glover is entertaining when he is let loose, while Sebastian Stan does seem weird, but doesn’t make the bigger enough of effect.

StoryThe story follows two sisters living outside of a small town, they live away from the rest of the town often seen as outsiders, with their peace being shattered by a distant relative. This story doesn’t seem to get going, which ends up just following the characters around the house, trying to rebuild their own reputations with what they once had or losing everything they once had.

MysteryThe mystery is meant to be about what is happened in the mansion before, leading to the mentality of the characters.

SettingsMost of the film is set in the mansion, which shows the life of luxury the sisters have been living in.


Scene of the Movie – The fire.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The mystery seems flat.

Final Thoughts This is forgettable drama mystery that just doesn’t seem to get going on the levels it could do or tries to give us to work with.

Overall: Mostly dull.

ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – Y – The Third Murder (2017) Movie Review

This movie is under Y because of the star of the movie Koji Yakusho.

Director: Hirokazu Koreeda

Writer: Hirokazu Koreeda (Screenplay)

Starring: Masaharu Fukuyama, Koji Yakusho, Shinnosuke Mitsushima, Mikako Ichikawa, Izumi Matsouka, Suzu Hirose

Plot: A courtroom drama centered around the murder of a factory president.

Runtime: 2 Hours 4 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Intriguing Mystery

Story: The Third Murder starts when Misumi (Yakusho) kills his factory manager, he confesses to the crime and is getting ready for his trial when lawyer Shigemori (Fukuyama) starts looking into the case, learning that the wife of the victim asked Misumi to commit the murder.

The deeper Shigemori looks into the past of Misumi, the more he learns about the man that was arrested 30-years-ago for murder, in a case which was solved, only it doesn’t seem to make sense either, if there more to his motivation than just murder?

Thoughts on The Third Murder

Characters – Shigemori is the lawyer that is handling the case, which seems cut and dry, the confession to murder is simple enough, what he must prove it motivation, trying to understand why this crime was committed and learning from people in Misumi’s life will help him understand this. He never gets let be in control of the case he is trying in court. Misumi is the man who murdered the factory manager, he has confessed to this crime, only he claims to have a motive which will put the focus away from him receiving the death penalty. He always seems to have something new to add to the interactions with Shigemori. Sakie is the daughter of the victim, who might well be throwing the case into a new direction, one that hasn’t been seen coming for either side of the lawyers.

PerformancesThe three lead performances in this film are wonderful, with the strong lawyer figure from Masaharu Fukuyama, to the potential killer in Koji Yakusho and the broken young woman Suzu Hirose, each shine in their parts through this film.

StoryThe story here follows a court case, which seems like it is just going to be about whether the murderer gets the death penalty or not, only to turn into a bigger case, that even questions whether he did it or not. When it comes to the old court case stories, they will always be a big draw for me, with how there could well be an outcome that goes against what most people in the story are expecting, with this being no exception, it does keep leave the twists coming and does feel like it always has one more to give us, which is just how we like the mystery story to unfold.

Crime/MysteryThe crime in this film focuses on what has been committed, while slowly branching out into a bigger mystery about what has happened, which plays out like a mystery we are left to see unfold before our eyes.

SettingsThe film uses the court room setting well, while also using the interviewing room and different locations from the life of the characters to understand the truth.


Scene of the Movie – The truth.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – One too many attempts for a twist.

Final Thoughts This is an interesting mystery thriller that does play into the court room drama that leaves you wanting to learn the truth of the case.

Overall: Great Courtroom Drama

The Woman in the Window (2021) Netflix Movie Review

The Woman in the Window – Solid Mystery

Director: Joe Wright

Writer: Tracy Letts (Screenplay) A.J. Finn (Novel)

Starring: Amy Adams, Fred Hechinger, Gary Oldman, Julianne Moore, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Wyatt Russell, Brian Tyree Henry, Anthony Mackie

Plot: An agoraphobic woman living alone in New York begins spying on her new neighbors, only to witness a disturbing act of violence.


Tagline – She has nothing to prove but what’s real

Runtime: 1 Hour 40 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: The Woman in the Window starts as an agoraphobic woman Anna Fox (Adams) sees her new neighbours move in, the Russell family, Alistair (Oldman) Jane (Moore) and son Ethan (Hechinger) who Anna befriends, believing he might be in danger.

After Anna believes she hears violence from across the street, she starts to believe something happened, but it this in her head, or was a violent crime committed.

Thoughts on The Woman in the Window

Characters & Performances – Anna Fox is an agoraphobic woman that works from her New York apartment building, she watches over her neighbours, with the new neighbours grabbing her attention, offering her a chance to make a new friend. After hearing an incident from across the street, she believes that she has heard a murder, only she will need to tackle her own problems to learn the truth about what is really happening. Anna often finds herself needing to battle her own sanity and fight her own battle to get through each day. Amy Adams is the strongest part of the acting in this film, but when isn’t she, let’s be honest. The Russell family move in across the street, with the son Ethan looking to advice, Alistair having a short temper and Jane being the one that drank with Anna. The family does become the obsession of Anna’s life as she believes something criminal is going on within the home. The actors in these roles are all solid in the film, with the big names like Gary Oldman, Julianna Moore and Jennifer Jason Leigh along with newcomer Fred Hechinger all doing everything they need to. We do get a couple of detectives Little and Norelli that get bought into trying to figure out the truth, while the tenant David has a darker past who is always around to make sure Anna is safe.

StoryThe story here follows a woman that is trying to figure out whether her knew neighbours have committed a murder, only for the truth about her own past leaving her in a confliction about just what is really going on. This is a film that is trying to capture the Rear Window magic of spying on a neighbour and never being sure what they saw or heard, believing a crime has been committed, while on paper this is a simple enough story to pull off, only this one goes for a big twist filled story that wants to play on the words said within the film, before turning into a very different movie by the end of the film. The story does seem to get too complicated and in what is a shocking final act, will only leaving you wondering what the hell just happened.

ThemesThe Woman in the Window is a mystery thriller that does offer up a big mystery, but does end up spending more time showing Anna about her own life, rather than looking into clues about what really happened. The location is kept within the apartment in New York City, which will help us have the contained feeling that Anna can’t just get help about what happened.

 

The Woman in the Window is a mystery that turns the target of what we are meant to be investigating towards the less important side of the story.

Zebra Girl (2021) Movie Review

Director: Stephanie Zari

Writer: Derek Ahonen, Sarah Roy, Stephanie Zari (Screenplay) Derek Ahonen (Play)

Starring: Tom Cullen, Sarah Roy, Jade Anouka, Anna Wilson-Jones, Isabelle Connolly, Moyo Akande

Plot: Catherine’s seemingly perfect rural life is turned upside down after she discovers her husband is hiding a dark secret that leads her to the unthinkable. Murder.

Runtime: 1 Hour 18 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Zebra Girl starts when Catherine (Roy) discovers her husband Dan (Cullen) has been working on something secret behind her back, which will lead to her murdering him, turning to her best friend Anita (Anouka) for help to get rid of the body.

As Catherine looks to solve the problems she has created, she ends up getting caught up in her memories of what would have led her down this path and how she met Dan in the first place, leading her down the path of wondering what is real or not.

Thoughts on Zebra Girl

Characters & Performances – Catherine is a woman that has been through her own troubles in the past, with her latest one seeing her believe her husband is up to something sinister behind her back, needing her old best friend back in her life to clear up the problems. She is confident she has done the right thing and is caught up in assessing her own life for the truth. Sarah Roy is great in this leading role, which is a more in depth look at a character she bought to life in the short movie Catherine before. Dan is the husband that has been up to something behind Catherine’s back, we see how he first met her and they built their relationship together. Tom Cullen in the supporting role works for the film through the different stages of Catherine’s life. Anita is the best friend that has returned to the life to help Catherine with the difficult moment, that will see them bonding after being years apart.

StoryThe story here follows a woman that has been dealing with her own mental health problems for years and suddenly starts to suspect her husband is up to no good and must look to understand the consequences of her suspicious mind. This is a story that will show us just how dangerous and difficult living with a condition that Catherine has, showing us that the constant suspicious nature can cause problems in life. The story is broken down into a couple of main events in Catherine’s life, with the aftermath of what happens, the first date with Dan, the next stage of their life and childhood memories, each one will jump in and out, keeping the timeline mixed to add moments of confusion to the bigger picture.

ThemesZebra Girl is a comedy mystery that will keep evolving the story as we look to learn the truth about what Dan has been up to behind Catherine’s back, with the mystery side shining in this side of the film. The comedy comes with the moments of the social awkward side of Catherine on the first date too.

Coming to Cinemas on the 28th May.

 

Zebra Girl is a dark mystery comedy that will leave you shocked by the truth.

The Tale (2018) Movie Review

Director: Jennifer Fox

Writer: Jennifer Fox (Screenplay)

Starring: Laura Dern, Jason Ritter, Common, Elizabeth Debicki, Jessica Sarah Flaum, Laura Allen, Ellen Burstyn, John Heard

Plot: A woman filming a documentary on childhood rape victims starts to question the nature of her childhood relationship with her riding instructor and running coach.

Runtime: 1 Hour 54 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

VerdictDisturbing

Story: The Tale starts as documentary filmmaker Jennifer (Dern) returns home, with her mother getting worried about a story she once wrote as a teenage girl about her time at a riding school under Mrs G (Debicki) and Bill (Ritter), which tells the story of how she was struggling in her home life and wanted to spend more time with the training.

The deeper Jennifer looks into her past, she starts realize the truth about the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her coach, one that she wants to learn more about why, before jumping to any conclusions.

Thoughts on The Tale

Characters – Jennifer is a documentary filmmaker, she travels the world for her stories and teaches classes, until she gets a story from her childhood, which shows a relationship she once had with an older man as a teenager girl. We follow both Jennifer in the modern world, looking back on her life and the Jennifer that was led by a sexual predator that took advantage of her innocence. Bill is the coach that has been breeding Jennifer at a younger age, he went onto become one of the most famous coaches in America sports, because nobody wanted to admit about his nature. Martin is the boyfriend of Jennifer, once he learns the truth he wants to help, only it does push their relationship further apart, he won’t let this be the end of their relationship though. Mrs G ran the riding school that Jennifer attended, she becomes idolised by the girls she taught, even though she was the gateway for Bill to meet the girls.

PerformancesLaura Dern is fantastic in the leading role shining through the film, with a supporting cast including Jason Ritter, Common, Elizabeth Debicki doing well with their moments, showing their strengths around Dern’s performance.

StoryThe story here follows a documentary filmmaker that looks back at her past, where she learns about the sexual abuse she once received as a teenager. This story shows the reality that a lot of victims wouldn’t have known what happened and it takes time to look back and learn the truth, instead of just panicking about it, we see how one person studies what might have happened to see how they became a victim over, why. This story does show how easily predators could breed their victims and how people wouldn’t look twice at what is happening around them. We do also know this is a personal story for the director, who puts her life out for display.

MysteryThe mystery in the film does a good job at balance, a tale from a 13-year-old with reality, teasing whether it was true or not.

SettingsThe film mixes the settings well between the two time periods, it shows us the locations that could make people victims and how people could build a world after it.


Scene of the Movie – Confrontation.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Not seeing more of the bigger picture.

Final Thoughts This is a disturbing look at one persons story of sexual abuse as a child, it shows how easily they were breed and how they didn’t even realize until they reach middle age, with powerful performance from Laura Dern.

Overall: Shocking.